Getting rid of compact fluorescent bulbs

By Andrew Freiden - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's a green way to save money and energy - switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. But these bulbs contain toxic mercury that must be handled carefully.

"I don't think people are as aware of the fact that they should not be disposed of in the trash can," said Anne Delgiudice.

Anne Delguidice got a shock when she heard her 10 year old granddaughter cleaned up a broken CFL by herself.

"I just feel like people need to be more aware that these light bulbs have this dangerous mercury in them," she said.

That dangerous mercury means you should take precautions if you break a bulb. Bill Hayden at the Department of Environmental Quality says if one breaks: open a window to allow the mercury fumes to dissipate.

"Mercury is something that is a toxic metal that often is in the environment from of power plants," said Hayden.

And don't grab a broom. That will just stir up the toxic mercury. Use hard paper or cardboard to clean up the mess. But you are not done yet...

"Use duct tape or sticky tape to pick up whatever powder or glass is left and that goes in the container with the other pieces," Hayden said.

Then the whole mess goes in a glass container with a lid or heavy plastic bag, then that can go in the trash. Sadly, the trace mercury in that broken bulb will end up in the landfill.

But that doesn't have to happen to every CFL. You can recycle unbroken bulbs at Home Depot stores.

"You throw it into a landfill, they're likely to get broken and that mercury automatically gets released into the environment. If they are properly handled and recycled, you don't have those mercury concerns," Hayden said.

Anne thinks that's a great thing - keeping mercury out of the environment for her grandchildren. You can recycle your bulbs at any area Home Depot store. But remember, they will only accept unbroken bulbs.

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